Zvartnots Cathedral

Zvartnots Temple (643-652) crowns Armenian architectural heritage. This unique monument includes the temple and catholicosal palace. From 2000 it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.

According to the tradition, Zvartnots was built on the road that king Tiridates 3rd took to welcome Grigor Lusavorich to Vagharshapat. Supposedly, the temple was built by catholicos Nerses 3rd to perpetuate this encounter. The temple is also called St.Grigor Lusavorich because the remains of Grigor Lusavorich were laid down here.

Zvartnots was also devoted to “zvartuns” or angels, and Zvartnots also means “hreshtakanoc” where hreshtak means angel. The entire temple was flooded with light; sunlight was coming in through 80 arch and 32 round windows making an impression of hoovering angels.

This site has served as a worship center since the pre-Christian period. In the beginning of the XXth century the ruined temple was covered with soil. During the excavations there were discovered the foundations of the Urartian temple, altar and cuneiform inscription made by Urartian king Rusa 2nd about the construction of a canal built from the river Hrazdan that has survived until today. According to the excavations, a pagan temple devoted to Tir god and building of the IV-Vth centuries were once standing on this site. As historical sources site, the temple was blessed in 653. Siege of Dvin and wars between Byzantine and Arab armies at the eastern border forced Nerses catholicos to move his seat from Dvin to Zvartnots.

The Byzantine emperor Constas II was present at the blessing of the temple. He was so impressed by the building that he took the architect back with him to Constantinople in order to build a similar temple there. The architect, however, got sick on the road and died. The temple remained untouched until the Xth century. There are no historical references on how it was destroyed. Supposedly, an earthquake destroyed it. The floor of the temple, lower parts of its walls, column capitals, anchors, an engraved sun clock and remains of a mosaic and a fresco were
preserved.